Merrie-Woode is a sanctuary of rarest beauty which inspires a lasting awareness of God’s presence. The Mission of Camp Merrie-Woode is to use that setting to nurture the physical, intellectual and spiritual growth of girls and young women through traditional camp activities and outdoor adventures. In this friendly, non-competitive community of simplified living, each individual is valued for who she is and who she will become.
Merrie-Woode is a traditional wilderness summer camp devoted to nurturing the physical, intellectual and spiritual growth of girls and young women in a beautiful, natural setting. The values of simplified living, warm personal relationships and a love of nature bind our large community of campers, staff and alumnae.
Living in rustic quarters, campers explore their interests and build their skills in areas of their choice. Our programming focuses on self-discovery, offering an array of outdoor and indoor activities in a non- competitive setting. Campers are encouraged to set goals and may, over time, achieve a high level of competence, gaining self-confidence in the process.
We strive to attract campers, staff and camp families from varied backgrounds who value youthful time spent in nature. Merrie-Woode is a place where every girl is supported as an individual while acquiring a deepened awareness of God’s creation and an expanded awareness of the world around her. Merrie-Woode’s campers have gone on to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways throughout their lifetimes, in part because of the rich network of friendships and core values of fair play, sustained effort and respect for others that they gained while at Camp Merrie-Woode.
The History of Camp Merrie-Woode
Founded in 1919, Camp Merrie-Woode was directed for nearly thirty years by Mabel Day. Dammie, as she was known by campers, was born of British parents and established old English traditions at Merrie-Woode. “I knew I wanted an imaginative and meaningful name,” Dammie wrote, “and one night the name came so clearly to me – Merrie-Woode…for it is a merry wood and campers will always make it so.” Dammie’s legacy of honor and appreciation of simple living and acquiring “eyes that see” the beauty of God’s world was emphasized in activities which taught the importance of a life of service.
Following the 1951 season, the camp was sold to Fritz and Augusta Orr of Atlanta, who with their son, Fritz, Jr. and his wife, Dottie, operated Merrie-Woode until 1978. The Orrs were great outdoor enthusiasts and were especially instrumental in building a strong canoeing and wilderness program.
Upon the Orrs’ retirement in 1978, Hugh Caldwell, a Sewanee, The University of the South, philosophy professor and Merrie-Woode staff member since 1952, led alumnae to form the Merrie-Woode Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation with the sole purpose of owning and operating Camp Merrie-Woode. Through the generous support of the Merrie-Woode family, the Merrie-Woode Foundation, Inc. purchased the camp in December 1978. With the establishment of the Merrie-Woode Foundation, the camp is now in effect owned and operated by its former campers. Dr. Caldwell served as its first Director through 1985 and was followed by Art and Carolyn Kramer. The Kramers directed the camp from 1985 – 1989.
From 1990-2002, the Strayhorns, Laurie and Gordon, served as the Directors. They worked to maintain the historic architecture during a period of extensive renovations to many of camp’s buildings and facilities.
In 2002, Denice and Jim Dunn began their tenure as Directors of Camp Merrie-Woode. The Dunns work to continue the traditions founded by their predecessors.
“Thirty years is a beautiful long time to have built my life into Merrie-Woode, and I’m just thankful that it still means so much to those who love it.” -Dammie Day